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2021 Data Center Trend Predictions

2021 has been quite a year, hasn’t it? A year filled with unanticipated changes and challenges for every industry, including the data center industry. If you are like us, your head might still be spinning. But, as we near the end of 2020, it is important to look forward optimistically and strategically to best position ourselves for a successful 2021. Never before have we seen a bigger shift to digital for all aspects of life. Everything from ordering groceries, to remote work, to online learning, and much more is driving a huge surge in data center demand. 

If we have proven anything this year, it is that we do have the capacity to shift our entire lives online and complete all basic aspects of life from home successfully, including work, education, socialization, ordering food delivery, ordering grocery delivery, attending doctor’s appointments, attending church, being entertained, exercising, and much more! And, while nobody should stay home forever, this year has highlighted that life can be unpredictable and we may suddenly find ourselves in another quarantine where everything must shift online again, and immediately, if possible. Though things will not always be this way, the pandemic will end, and we will eventually regain most aspects of ‘normal’ life, there are certain changes that are likely to stick around. Why would companies return to renting huge offices and having large overhead costs if some or all of their employees can work from home? Why would someone go back to in-person doctor’s visits when, if possible, they can easily stay home and avoid the risk of going into a germ-filled doctor’s office? It simply makes sense that there will be a change in the digital footprint in our lives after this. And, the only thing that can help ensure all of these things are possible while being safe and efficient is agile data centers. This rapid digital adoption has been challenging to meet in such a short window of time but, as we look forward to 2021, we can clearly see that the demand is not going anywhere, and there are a few things data centers can do to position themselves to not only stay on trend but optimally meet demand in 2021.

2021 Data Center Trend Predictions

Continued Cloud Adoption Will Drive Data Center Demand

If you thought a massive cloud adoption will end in 2020, think again. One growing cloud trend is dedicated enterprise cloud networks. While the public cloud is an excellent option for many individuals and small businesses, many enterprises need a dedicated cloud to ensure security, privacy, low latency, uptime, and more. Meanwhile, hyperscale cloud providers experienced a massive year and that will only carry over into 2021.  Data Center Knowledge points out just how much growth is anticipated in hyperscale cloud data centers in the coming years, “Much of the growth at the physical infrastructure level is driven by hyperscale cloud service providers, who offer the go-to digital services consumers and enterprises rely on. These providers will have deployed 2.1 million new IT racks between now and 2025, which translates to roughly $62 billion in capital spend on data center infrastructure, according to 451’s projections.’

Data Center Colocation Surge

As enterprises try to determine how to best manage their current needs in an ever-shifting setting where remote work is common and quarantines could happen at any moment. But the challenge is to manage the demand while staying agile enough that you can scale rapidly when/if needed. There are major risks associated with enterprise-managed data centers and private clouds which is why enterprise colocation will surge in 2021 and beyond. When an enterprise has a dedicated data center colocation facility, they can enjoy complete privacy, strict security, and may be able to more easily meet compliance demands. This is helpful for more efficiently facilitating sensitive business operations without the logical nightmare and massive job it is to run an in-house data center themselves. Outsourcing to a data center colocation facility, or building your own at a significant expense may not be fiscally viable or simply not the best long-term investment option. When this is the case, edge computing may be a better option. While there are many similarities between enterprise data centers and edge data centers, the best option will depend on available capital for investment and long-term business goals.

Edge Computing Expansion

If you are a new business or enterprise that needs a high level of flexibility and scalability, implementing an edge network for your business may be the best option.  TechRepublic elaborates on why edge computing will be hot in 2021, “‘Until now, edge computing was promising but still developing. In 2021, new business models will emerge that facilitate the deployment of edge in production,’ Forrester said in a summary of its predictions. The new business models that will push edge computing ‘from science project to real value’ in 2021 are largely based around two factors, Forrester said: Cloud platforms having to compete with artificial intelligence, and the widespread proliferation of 5G will make edge use cases more practical…Public cloud entities won’t disappear, but they won’t dominate the future of distributed computing, Forrester predicts. ‘Their culture is based on massive data centers and tight control of the architecture, the exact opposite of what rms need to serve customers locally. Vendors with a winning edge strategy will do better.'”

While this year has been tough for both individuals and businesses, it is time to look beyond this year and the pandemic and see how we can best support and power our future. There have been many data center successes in 2020, and a few failures, but all of these things have been useful tools in determining how to strategically preparer for sudden shifts in data center demands. If data centers can prepare to be as agile and scalable as possible, put effective security and privacy measures in place, and ensure they have enough power to support current and potential future infrastructure, they will be well-positioned for a successful 2021 and beyond. 

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